This interview series focuses on the people in Santa Fe’s real-estate industry. Melissa Pippin-Carson is a broker with KellerWilliams and is the 2017 president of the Santa Fe Association of Realtors. She wrote a monthly column, “Pip’s Tips,” from 2006 to 2010 and she and her husband, Roger Carson, have penned “Spouses Selling Houses” since then.
What has being president meant to you? It’s been very meaningful. I’ve enjoyed it tremendously and I have tried to do a good job, to do things the membership needs. We implemented a payment plan at the beginning of the year. Most people think real-estate brokers make so much money, but the national average is $39,000. People come here to retire and they think they can do this and make a lot of money, but this is a tough profession. It’s not like the old days of meeting somebody who wants to buy a house at the bar.
When I started, there was floor time, the idea that people will see a real-estate sign and call you and you’ll have a sale. That doesn’t really happen anymore, either. So that idea of getting a license and making all thismoney is like a dream. If you’re fortunate enough to get a listing, you have to price it right to sell, then you have to get through the contract and the negotiations and if you’re a new broker, you have to split with your qualifying broker and there are desk fees and advertising expenses and what you’re left with after paying Uncle Sam is sometimes not worth the three months you’ve been working on it. Where were you born and raised? I was born in Palm Springs, California, and I lived a long time in Houston and in Michigan. My grandfather’s family settled around Albion, Michigan, in the latter part of the 19th century. We moved around so much, but that farm is pretty much my childhood home. What did you want to do when you were a kid? It’s so corny, but I wanted to be an actress. I grew up watching old black-and-white movies and I loved all the old actors like Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Myrna Loy. Everyone seemed so elegant and dapper and I wanted to be just like that. When I was a teenager, I used to do skits for my friends and I wanted to make everyone laugh. Then, I thought Saturday Night Livewould be so much fun. But, I never made it to Hollywood or New York. I still try to do the occasional community theater and I do love being on stage. The last one I did was the Sante Fe Melodrama, in 2012, I think. It takes a lot of time, but I love theater. I love being on stage. How long have you been in Santa Fe? I moved here in 1992. I had been in Colorado for skiing but I’d never been in New Mexico. I’ve lived a lot of different places, but I really love Santa Fe. What was your first job here? I was a bartender at the Palace Restaurant. I worked for Lino Pertusini. I met Roger there. I was playing hard to get, but one night I was walking down Palace Avenue with a friend of mine and Roger sawme and he came over and he swooped me up in his arms and went running down the sidewalk. It was a hoot. He got my attention. We were married in 1999 at the Loretto Chapel. We have two daughters, Farleigh and Zoe, and he has a son from a previous marriage. What did you do after bartending? We had a pedicab and tour business here for a while. We had two pedicabs, and we created a 2-mile tour and we’d talk about the history of Santa Fe. But that was so seasonal. Then one day when we were building our house and I was pregnantwith Zoë, I just woke up and I said, I’m gettingmy real-estate license. What exposure to it had you had? None. Roger was the catering director at Las Campanas and he would talk about it occasionally, but, you know, divine inspiration or whatever, I just woke up and had that clarity. I took my classes and got my license in November 2001. I started with French & French Fine Properties, working in their Zafarano office.
Did Pat andMichael French take you under their wings?
They did, and Alan Ball was the head of the new agent division, but I did my own thing, too. You have to, because no matter what somebody tells you, it’s not always the perfect fit. You have to formulate your own thing around success. I do not believe in cold-calling people. When I was a new agent, my schtick was advertising in the Santa Fe Reporter with an ad calledThe Pip of theWeek. I would go hit up FSBOs [For Sale by Owner people], knock on the door, and tell them I’d advertise their property and I had an exclusive 30-day listing contract with them.
You’re starting off with people who have an antagonism for the broker process.
Yeah, but they will pay a real-estate broker 3 percent if we bring the buyer. People think they can get more money, but all of the national averages show that a real-estate broker will sell the house for about 10 percent more than if you try to do it yourself. And there’s so much liability, and you’re inviting people into your home.
That’s another thing: in my presidency, I have been a big proponent of self-defense classes for Realtors and our affiliates. We’ve done several free classes.
What do you do in your spare time? Are you working all the time?
It can be constant, but I’ve started to turnmy phone off at 8:00. I do yoga. We like taking the kids to the beach in Encinitas, north of San Diego, where we stay in a Fifties-style motel and we can walk to the beach. We also love to ski, right here in Santa Fe. Andwe have two dogs, a collie and an English bulldog. And Roger will tell you that I’ma sports jock. OK, what’s your team? I like Denver, but I also enjoy tennis. You andRoger work as a Realtor team. Do you have different roles?
I do the majority of the admin and paperwork, and Roger does more of the marketing. We both show houses, and a husband-and-wife team is a greatway to do that. Tell us about the MLS. The number of multiple listing services across the nation went from 2,500 to about 800 in one decade. For me, the importance of what we do is in the information that we have, and it has to be accurate and reliable and it has to be ours. We shouldn’t sell it upstream to someone else. I’m a big proponent of maintaining our MLS to Santa Fe. There are people who want to join the state MLS, but I think that’s a step in thewrong direction. I think it’s important to keep Santa Fe strong. Do you like contemporary style in our new homes? I do. I like what’s called “soft contemporary.” We can keep the downtown classic and old and interesting, but for other areas I think Santa Fe should embrace a Southwestern modernism. We have a great opportunity on St. Michael’s Drive to build and create some really cool places for modern living incorporating retail and putting parking underneath, because most millennials don’t even drive. We need more diversity in our housing, because 75 percent of our workers don’t even live in Santa Fe. We want people here, we want to be sustainable.
The incentives the city has in place for St. Michael’s are so awesome, but let’s get it going. It needs to happen!